Farming, the Environment and Stewardship

Farming, the Environment and Stewardship:

Disney calls it the ‘Circle of Life’. Sky, seas, and land are all connected; as are the plant and animal life in each. Overuse or destruction of any one part changes the interconnection with each of the others. 1970’s brought fence row to fence row cultivation; mono-cultural crop production; and large-scale crop, livestock, and agribusiness to Iowa. It also has substituted ‘natural’ means to control insects, fungus, pathogens, etc. through crop and livestock rotations for a chemistry-based system which is fossil fuels based.

Climate change and Global pandemics are the direct result of this change. Iowa has lost ½ of its soil due to climate issues, and the demands for large scale Agra-business. Iowa must return to ‘value added’ crop diversity and retool our exports away from a commodity driven business. That brings both additional manufacturing jobs, and opportunities for more of our children to remain a part of the Iowa productive workforce.

This also challenges our educational institutions into Iowa based product development that adds to state revenues. This also allows crop specialization, on a smaller scale, to diversify land use and soil preservation. Iowa State University, and other land grant colleges, now estimate the US could remove 5-10% of uneconomic croplands and put these areas into legumes or set asides at nominal cost. This would not affect our food security or exports and would reduce crop surpluses and raise farm incomes. This would reduce the USDA budget for disaster and revenue loss payments, and also sequester carbon into the soils. This would reduce soil and nutrient losses into waterways,  and provide habitat for wildlife, butterflies, and pollinators all at the same time. Iowa’s nutrient and clean water initiatives should prioritize and implement this research.